The Role of Online Communities in Developing the SoTL: February 17 - March 5, 2006

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by Elizabeth Wallace -
Number of replies: 9

Welcome to the discussion. I look forward to working with you all.

To begin, let me comment on how frequently a new turn of phrase creeps into popular usage, and how quickly we start using it, without really thinking about what it means. Per sesmile So as we start our discussion about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, I?d like to invite you to share with us what that phrase means to you, and your practice. And can we agree to use SOTL as an acronym, to save hours of typing the full words?

Let me open by saying that, in the past decade or so, SOTL, has been increasingly applied to developments in Higher Education. I?d like to suggest that we follow that trend. Whereas there is a rich and varied body of research that considers teaching and learning in the K-12 institutions, and we can certainly draw on that literature for our discussion, I?d like to ask that we focus on the Post-Secondary and Adult Education panels. If there?s a big demand, I?m sure Sylvia will set up a separate K-12 forum later on. Hmmm?am I constraining our definition with that suggestion?

I mention Adult Education because it is near and dear to my heart. As a graduate of the doctoral program at OISE/University of Toronto, where ?self-directedness? was even applied to cleaning up after ourselves in the student kitchen, many of the principles that underpin SoTL have informed my work for years. Brookfield and Cross and Mezirow, some of the educators whose work has helped to promote SOTL, and whose writings I hope we will discuss during this seminar, are also highly regarded in Adult Education. It?s a pleasure for me to be discussing the theories and practices in these overlapping fields.

As we start, I?d like to mention three points, in particular. First, the duration of this forum is deliberately planned to coincide with the Educational Developers Caucus at the University of Victoria, in beautiful British Columbia.  I?m introducing SCoPE to the participants in my presentation on Feb. 22, and, since the conference is focusing on SoTL, my hope is that the online discussion in this forum will contribute to the success of the event. SCoPE already has an international membership, and we welcome new members who will be joining us from Victoria in a few days.

Secondly, you?ll notice that I?ve started a thread on Annotated Bibliography and Favourite Resources, so that we can start building a repository of our most loved reading and sources. Please put the title of your recommendation in the Subject Line of your posting, and give us a little flavour of the book or website, along with details and links that can help us find the resource for ourselves.

And finally, let me go back to my opening comment about helping others to understand SoTL. Many of you are familiar with Wikipedia the remarkable online reference wiki that has been built by the contribution of dedicated people worldwide. When I searched for the term Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, I found that there was no such entry in W. So I added it, and you find it by clicking here! As we refine our definitions here, let?s contribute to Wikipedia so that people worldwide can refer to it. (Click on my name in SCoPE to send me a private message if you need private help on using Wikipedia).

And now it?s time to start the conversation. For those who need a place to start, let me direct you to CASTL. However, the question is, what does SOTL mean to you?

In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Re: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by *Russ*ell Day -
Hello all

I sometimes find it useful to define something by comparing it with what it is not.  That means that I need to define other things first.  These are very brief and incomplete definitions, but they are the sorts of brief definitions I can use to explain SoTL to a colleague in a hallway.

Scholarly Teaching is the intentional, proactive response to feedback about my successful and less succesful teaching activities, so that the quality of learning is improved for all involved.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning takes Scholarly Teaching public - through dissemination (still to be defined as the new discipline evolves).

Russ


In reply to *Russ*ell Day

Re: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by Vivian Neal -
Russell,

Your definition focusses on improving practice - feedback, and dissemination. Am I mistaken in thinking that scholarship would primarily be identifying, through research, what is good teaching and learning?

Vivian
In reply to *Russ*ell Day

Re: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by Barbara Berry -
Hi Russ,
I like your definition of SOTL. It speaks to professional practice.

I'd like to propose that SOTL also includes the "reflection - in- action" cycle of systematic self-reflection and re-integration of new ideas described by Donald A. Schon (1983) in The Reflective Practicioner: How Professionals Think in Action".

What do you think?
Cheers,
Barb
In reply to *Russ*ell Day

Re: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by Paul Beaufait -
Hi Russ, Vivian, Barb, et al.:

While Vivian's reflection of Russ's short definition (21 February 2006, 10:07 PM [PST or JST?]) seems to extract a connotation of investigation, Russ seems equally intent to focus on both more AND less successful teaching and learning. In turn, Barb's seems to suggest that reflection is necessary in order to generate proactive responses to feedback on one's own teaching.

In sum, the final bit of Russ's post could suggest that scholars of teaching and learning need to publicly disseminate learner feedback, reflective practices, proactive responses, and subsequent outcomes in order for scholarship of teaching and learning to evolve. However, I'm left wondering what SoTL might not entail.

Cheers, Paul
In reply to Paul Beaufait

Re: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: What Does It Mean?

by Barbara Berry -
Good Morning Paul and Everyone,

I wondered about your last statement last evening "what does SOTL not entail?" In trying to come up with an answer I began to think about what another question "what is scholarly teaching?" It seems to me that scholarly teaching requires the person who is teaching to respond to data about the learners and their needs, the learner's requirements and society's expectations. Scholarly teaching also suggests that the teacher must consider the content that is to be taught and the best way to teach this content. The scholarly teacher must pay attention to the results of others and integrate where possible the "best teaching and learning practices" in their discipline.

I wonder if SOTL is discipline specific?
Barb
In reply to Barbara Berry

Discipline specific?

by Paul Beaufait -
Interesting question, Barb.

You may already have found one answer in a working definition that Liz posts on a separate discussion thread:

"Lynn Taylor (Dalhousie) and Teresa Dawson (UT/Scarborough) proposed..., 'SOTL takes place within disciplines and draws on the associated methods and epistemologies appropriate to those disciplines in its inquiry.'"
(An invitation to contribute to the working definition of SoTL; retrieved February 25, 2006 [JST], from http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=150).

Does that mean that institutional models will not work or suffice? If so, this point loops us back to the question of roles online communities may play, and might suggest their necessity.

However, that particular part of Taylor and Dawson's working definition of SoTL, specifically, "within disciplines" (original context above), seems to exclude the sort of interdisciplinary, international discussion that is taking place here, doesn't it?

Cheers, Paul
In reply to Paul Beaufait

Re: Discipline specific?

by Barbara Berry -
Hi Paul and Everyone,
Yes, I would say that it limits the conversation of the notion that there might be some common ground between disciplines. Or better yet, some new ground at the "edges" of the disciplines.

I found an interesting discussion at the Carnegie Foundation on this very topic entitled: Situating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation" found at:
http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/sub.asp?key=452&subkey=610

The authors speak of a "trading zone" between the disciplines. So, is it possible to "trade" ideas, practices and scholarship or is it more about creating new scholarship and practices that reflects interdisciplinarity?

cheers,
Barb

Barb
In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Keys to a puzzle?

by Sylvia Currie -
From Keys to a puzzle? by paulb on Sun Feb 26 17:22:00 2006:
Well who could resist Paul's invitation to fiddle with the puzzle pieces and see if they may serve as a "springboard for understanding"
  1. Action
  2. Struggle
  3. History
  4. Reasons
  5. Options
I just wanted to pull these out and into the right thread. Now I'll spend some time thinking about them! thoughtful
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Keys to a puzzle?

by Sylvia Currie -
Instead of using those words in a sentence (action, struggle, history, reasons, options), I used them in a picture...with a warning that it might only make sense to me! big grin 
Attachment SOTL_CoP.jpg